Verderio and the Confalonieri Villa
The development of the Italian textile industry, leads the families of the first big Lombard industrialists to build their summer retreats in the Region’s north-eastern area, in particular in Como province. Magnificent Villas in French classical style started to be erected, and they became privileged aristocratic exclusive circles where the splendours of the Italian Renaissance where being imitated, following the model of the Palladian Villas along the Brenta River.
In a small town near the Adda river, Verderio in the province of Como, now of Lecco, already theatre of battles in 1799 between the Austrian and Bonaparte French troops, Gnecchi family inherited, in 1842, from the uncle Giacomo Ruscone (who conditioned the legacy to the addition of the surname Ruscone) a villa, where Giuseppe Gnecchi and his wife Giuseppina, born from the Counts Turati went to live. Just next to it, there was the magnificent villa of the Confalonieri family. There, one night, Vitaliano, nephew of Federico Confalonieri, involved in the Carbonari movement, left mysteriously the villa in the middle of a dinner party, and never came back.
The Gnecchi Rusconi Family and its social success
Giuseppina Gnecchi Turati, wife of Giuseppe Gnecchi (silk industrialist and supporter of the national independence risings), in 1848 bought the Confalonieri villa, laying the grounds of a family which, with business intelligence and clever marriage unions, was reaching social success in the Lombard aristocrat society; the villa became the heart of the Gnecchi family, keeping within its walls the old splendours of a bourgeoisie reality by this time far-off. Giuseppina Gnecchi Turati distinguished then herself for the numerous donations to Verderio, included the impressive parish church (that she could not see finished, since she died in the month of July 1899).
Francesco Gnecchi Ruscone, the King and Milan aristocrat elite
Gnecchi Ruscone family interests were drawn more and more by Milan, where they had an abode in Via Monte di Pietà, 1; until Giuseppina Gnecchi Ruscone decided to buy a luxurious palace in via Filodrammatici 10, behind the “Teatro alla Scala”, already propriety of Visconti Ajmi, as a marriage present for her eldest son Francesco (palace that after the second world war was bought by Enrico Cuccia to make there Mediobanca headquarters).
Francesco Gnecchi Ruscone distinguished himself for his philanthropic, cultural and entrepreneurial qualities. Personality with a patriotic past, he was voluntary in the war of 1866 against Austria. As renowned numismatist, he constituted the most important collection of roman coins of the imperial age (declared national monument and today exhibited in Rome archaeological Museum), established in 1888 “La Rivista Italiana di Numismatica” (the Italian journal of Numismatic) and prepared with King Vittorio Emanuele III (who was bound to him by a deep esteem) the compilation of the “Corpus Nummorum Italicorum”, which in effect united his and the King’s collections. He was an important silk producer, as well as Major of Verderio (endowing the town at its costs with the main services, included the Townhouse and the municipal waterworks), Milan city councillor, chairman of different companies, banks and firms, as well as director of the Company of silk waste.
After the war, this very company was accused to have supplied to the enemy silk waste which could be used to produce parachutes. Among the defendants there was Francesco Gnecchi Ruscone, too. The trial – that at the time caused a big scandal – was held in Rome and it was for him an untold moral suffering, so much so that he fell ill during the trial and died for a cardiac crisis, never knowing the verdict: full acquittal.